Glass Cabochons

Cabochon – what is it?

A cabochon, from the Middle French word caboche (meaning “head”), is a gemstone which has been shaped and polished as opposed to faceted. The resulting form is usually an ellipsed dome with a flat bottom.  The procedure is to cut a slab of rough rock with a slab saw, and next to stencil a shape from a template. The slab is then trimmed to near the marked line using a diamond blade saw—called a trim saw ad then ground down with diamond saws.  The art of cutting stones is called lapidary.

Glass Cabochons

If you follow my work in glass, you know that I make my glass beads by a process called lampworking or flame working. You wind hot glass on a stainless steel mandrel in a torch resulting in a glass form with a hole – hence a bead.  I also like to make glass cabochons – glass pieces that are not beads because there is no hole and are reminiscent of cut gemstones.  So how do you work in the flame to get that shape?  The technique is called “off mandrel”  where you manipulate the glass directly in the flame with just the rods of glass.  I make some of my cabochons with the off mandrel technique.  I also use special mandrels made specifically for cabochon forming.

cabochon mandrel photo

Some finished glass cabochons

glass cabochons

Jewelry using cabochons

So why do I want glass cabochons?  Even though bead jewelry is wonderful on it’s own, sometimes I like to set stones in silver.  And to distinguish my pieces I like to make glass cabochons which express my story. Along with classic metalsmithing techniques the resulting piece is unique.

glass cabochon rings

Rings with glass cabochons – plus a beautiful natural amber ring (got the amber in Poland)

creating the desert in glass and metal

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